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« A Model of "Resistance" | Main | The Wrong Cover Story »

Monday, January 28 2008

Caught In the Act: BBC Regurgitates Old News

Bbc_logo_2The only items missing from Paul Martin's BBC dispatch are the bits that would reveal that this report was originally filed in November -- around the time of the Annapolis summit. See the same reporter's dispatch published in the Washington Times.

The primary difference between the two versions: the BBC tacks onto the end a few comments from an Israeli police official and an unidentified mother whose son was killed in a rocket attack.

The fact that the Times' article was syndicated by World News & Features is irrelevant. The BBC's January 26 date suggests that Martin's encounter with Palestinian rocketeer Abu Haroun was recent. Its pure laziness on the BBC's part.

• Why is the BBC regurgitating old stories with a new date? Could they not be bothered to update their coverage?

• Why is the Beeb seemingly ready with fresh content when it comes to negative coverage of Israel?

• What other so-called "original" stories are the Beeb rehashing?

• Is this the kind of journalism that deserves to be supported by public license fee money?

 

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Comments

What a strange thing? Not a word of criticism about the content of my report, just about its timing! I wonder if you think it was somehow wrong for me to describe a rocket-firing mission? Surely journalists have to tell the listeners or readers what all sides and all types of people or militias are doing in a zone of conflict?

Your only stated complaint about my FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT feature is that the main event that I describe took place in November. Yes it did.

So what? If you would listen to FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT, which has been on air for fifty years, you would know that much of the content comprises the personal reflections of correspondents and is specifically not supposed to be a news report, geared to events of the day. It could be that some event has happened that week that creates a "peg" for running a reflective piece.

The intention, I think (I am not on the BBC staff, and run a multimedia international news agency) is to allow correspondents room to illustrate a particular issue with a few personal anecdotes or a (true!)story or two. Again, it is not a news report.

I have been able to watch not one but several rocket-firing activities and to meet the people carrying them out, and the people who are in the firing line, that is, both sides. I could have described a rocket-firing event that I had been on two or three days before I broadcast my piece. But I chose to use the most revealing and interesting of the several rocket-firing missions I had witnessed. I was trying to give the listeners (FOOC is mainly a radio programme) a real insight into this activity, so they got the best example from my limited experience of this phenomenon.

I also took the trouble to go the next day and see things from Sderot, so as to present both sides. Our news agency WORLD NEWS & FEATURES put out a story on this, which appeared inter alia in an American newspaper. That does not prevent me from describing the same event again, on BBC radio or in any other media.

And I'll tell you something. The BBC, which I see from a glance at your website you seem to want to criticise at every opportunity, insisted I give the piece balance. They wanted me to talk also about my visit to Sderot - as well as the woman whose son had been killed. (The demonstration she had attended took place just a few days before my FOOC was broadcast, by the way.)

So much for your allegation of BBC bias. From my long though non-continuous experience of the BBC (going back to 1977) I would say the BBC is not monolithic and it has some superb and some not-so-superb reporters and producers and editors.

At least in this case the excellent and very conscientious producers of FOOC were at pains to make sure my piece was fair and balanced.

It was - are you?

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